At 470.19 kilometres the timed special on stage four of the rally was the longest of the event. Consisting of a looped route, that started and finished close to the Mongolian capital of Ulan-Bator, the stage challenged the riders with a variety of terrain including fast open tracks through the plains and rocky roads among the stone pyramids. As the first part of the two-day marathon stage, teams are forbidden from working on the bikes overnight.

Following his fourth-place finish on Tuesday’s stage three, Sam Sunderland was in the perfect position to chase down the riders ahead of him and make up time on the rally leader. Maintaining a fast pace for the entire 470 kilometres, the British rider not only did enough to make up time on the riders ahead but won the stage outright, over three minutes ahead of his teammate. Sunderland now leads the rally by five minutes and 11 seconds.

Sam Sunderland #6

“It’s been a super-long and super-fast stage today, which is a good combination as the kilometres tick off quite quickly when you’re at 160-170 km/h. I felt really good on the bike and tried to stay on my navigation and watch out for the dangers. You have to stay focused but 470 kilometres is a long time to maintain your concentration. The bike has been perfect so I’m really happy with that. It’s the marathon stage so we can’t really work on the bike too much, but everything looks good so we’re ready for tomorrow.”

Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Junior class rider Luciano Benavides put in another stunning performance today to complete the long timed special in second overall – an impressive achievement for the young 24-year-old Argentinian. Benavides now lies second in the provisional overall standings albeit by just one second. However, the gap back to the fourth-placed rider is a more comfortable 14 minutes.

Luciano Benavides #77

“It was a good stage for me, I feel like I rode well again. It was a long stage – the longest of the Silk Way, so I’m happy to finish safe and healthy. My goal for today was to concentrate on my road book and navigation and stay focused on the bike. I think I managed that and I’m happy with the result. I feel confident now and really motivated for tomorrow’s second part of the marathon stage.”

Feeling more comfortable on her KTM 450 RALLY, Laia Sanz rode a superb stage four completing the day just outside of the top 10 in 11th. With her confidence growing, Laia is ready to push on the latter half of the marathon stage and the remainder of the rally.

Laia Sanz #44

“It was a good stage for me today, I felt a lot more comfortable than the days before. The bike felt good and I had more confidence so was able to keep to a better rhythm. Unfortunately, on the second half of the stage, I had to stop for my stomach and lost a little time there but all-in-all it has been a good day.”

Rider Standings

(Top 10 Only)

Pos. Rider Num Nation Team Time/Gap
1 SUNDERLAND Sam GBR Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team 9:38’55
2 BENAVIDES Luciano ARG KTM Factory Racing Team +5’11
3 BARREDA Joan SPA Monster Energy Honda Team +5’12
4 BENAVIDES Kevin ARG Monster Energy Honda Team +15’38
5 MENA Oriol SPA Hero Motorsports Team Rally +16’52
6 VAN BEVEREN Adrien FRA Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team +17’21
7 SHORT Andrew USA Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing +17’29
8 GONCALVES Paulo POR Hero Motorsports Team Rally +18’23
9 CAIMI Franco ARG Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team +20’19
10 CORNEJO José Ignacio CHI Monster Energy Honda Team +34’31

Photos: KTM Press Center

The Silk Way Rally has arrived in Mongolia. The third stage had a weighty presence from Monster Energy Honda Team, with Kevin Benavides claiming the stage victory and a spirited fight for second place from Joan Barreda.

The rally leaves behind Russia and moves on to Mongolia, the country of eternal blue skies. Change of the scenery: the predominance of the taiga gives way to the steppes in a country characterized by an ample variety of terrain types: forest, mountains and plains, not to mention the Gobi desert in the south. The day’s special took place entirely on Mongolian soil after a liaison road section from Ulan Ude which took competitors across the border into Mongolia. The arrival of harder track and terrain saw an immediate increase in speed and race pace. The bivouac is situated close to the country’s capital Ulan Bator, using the infrastructure from the new airport that is under construction there.

Kevin Benavides took the stage honours on the third day of the Silk Way Rally, setting a scorching pace from the outset of the special stage. The Argentinean’s Monster Energy Honda Team companion, Spanish rider Joan Barreda, in spite of a slight mishap at the start of the special, was able to attack in the latter stages, battling hard with Kevin in search of the day’s quickest stint. Benavides, in the end, recorded the fastest one with Barreda coming home some 30 seconds behind the stage winner who holds on to and increases his grip at the head of the overall standings. Meanwhile, Barreda leapfrogs to third place in the general standings.

The third rider of the Monster Energy Honda Team trio, Chilean José Ignacio Cornejo, was feeling more at home on harder surfaces, finishing the special less than seven minutes adrift of Benavides to improve in the overall rankings too.

Tomorrow sees the fourth stage, the first leg of the marathon stage, with a looping route around the Mongolian capital Ulan Bator. The 476.96-kilometre total stage will include 470.19 against the clock, the longest special of the rally. Riders will have a time period available at their disposal to work on the bikes once the special stage is finished.

Kevin Benavides #7


Today was a different stage, a very long day: 10 hours on the bike. I enjoyed the special. I did not push as much as possible, but I tried to keep good pace and it was great to win on the day. Tomorrow I will have to open the track, not something I like, as it is not a good one for strategy. There are many days of racing left and you have to enjoy this Silk Way Rally stage by stage, something that I’m really doing.

Joan Barreda #11


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It was a good day in the end, but it was not an easy one. At the beginning of the special I lost some time when I fell into a trap that Paulo Gonçalves had also fallen into. I could not help it, but the bike just fell inside. Fortunately it was nothing serious for the bike, but I was held up there for at least two minutes. Then, I tried to focus and find good pace without taking too many risks, although I overtook Paulo in the middle of all the dust that he was raising. It was a tricky day. I tried to pull back some of the lost time over the final kilometres, something that isn’t easy on outside tracks and areas of grass.

José Ignacio Cornejo #9


I am happy to enter Mongolia after the first two stages in Russia which were not my riding style. Here it went much better than the previous ones had. I’m happy with what I’ve done today and I’m becoming more confidence. We are going to try to go out and make up lost ground. We have been climbing positions little by little and hopefully will continue to do so. Tomorrow will be complicated because it’s the marathon stage and it will also be the longest special stage. So we should perhaps try not to take too many risks over these coming two days.

Rider Standings (Top 10 only)

Pos. Rider Num Nation Team Time/Gap
1 BENAVIDES Kevin ARG Monster Energy Honda Team 5:20’42
2 SUNDERLAND Sam GBR Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team +2’54
3 BARREDA Joan SPA Monster Energy Honda Team +3’09
4 BENAVIDES Luciano ARG KTM Factory Racing Team +4’19
5 GONCALVES Paulo POR Hero Motorsports Team Rally +9’28
6 MENA Oriol SPA Hero Motorsports Team Rally +9’37
7 CAIMI Franco ARG Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team +10’40
8 SHORT Andrew USA Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing +11’45
9 VAN BEVEREN Adrien FRA Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team +12’52
10 CORNEJO José Ignacio CHI Monster Energy Honda Team +28’15

Photos: Honda Racing Corporation



The second stage of the Silk Way Rally sees Monster Energy Honda Team rider Kevin Benavides continue his command at the head of the overall race leader board after a valiant effort opening the track throughout the stage in the Siberian taiga.

Taiga is the name given to the Siberian forest. The tracks found there are made up mainly of earth and rocks that tend to be very damp and full of muddy quagmires. The entire second Silk Way Rally stage played out in such terrain, vastly different from the pampas and deserts which the rally raiders are normally used to.

Kevin Benavides, winner of the first stage, got lumped with opening the track today, which he did from start to finish over 212 kilometres of special stage, full of narrow potholed track studded with rocks. The forest section gave way to faster stretches of track requiring deft navigation. The previous enduro experience worked to the Argentine rider’s advantage, allowing him to minimize the handicap of opening the way throughout the entire day’s racing. Benavides posted a swift time that sees him hang on to top spot in the overall rankings.

Joan Barreda, Benavides’ Spanish team-mate, feeling ill-at-ease in conditions that didn’t suit his riding style, nevertheless managed to make it through the tricky stage. Barreda finished 2’40 adrift of the winner on the day and occupies fifth position in the general standings at a similar distance from the leader. Meanwhile, Chilean rider Cornejo likewise reached the goal without major mishaps but with a sense of achievement after the ordeal and can now look forward to the sections of the rally in the steppes and the desert.

Tomorrow sees the third stage, between Ulan Ude and the capital of Mongolia, Ulan Bator. There will be a total of 691.35 kilometres of stage, although only 243 km will be against the clock.

Kevin Benavides #7


I opened the whole stage. We knew it would be hard and very technical with many stones and mud. The narrow tracks were difficult, but I enjoyed it in spite of it being very hard. I think I did it well and I was in a good position. It was technical, fast and with navigation over the final 50 kilometres. I nearly crashed into an animal but luckily he dodged out of my way! You have to be very attentive to everything. The rally is a game of chess, so let’s see how it turns out. I am happy with the result.

Joan Barreda #11


I felt very good on the slopes today with lots of mud and some potholes with big rocks. I could not find the right feelings and I was looking forward to getting past this section. Then there was a faster part and I felt a lot better there. We finished the day without any problems; I am well placed at a minimum time behind the leader. Everything is going well. I hope that in Mongolia we will find more open stages and I can find places that suit my riding style better.

José Ignacio Cornejo #9


Today’s stage was much longer but was also harder. Lots of mud, water, stones and little visibility because of the shade of the forest trees. I did not feel very comfortable and I was struggling to feel comfortable. Let’s hope that in the future we find some terrain that will keep us ahead. Physically I’m fine, but mentally it’s hard to find a good race pace in these conditions.

Rider Standings


Pos. Rider Num Nation Team Time/Gap
1 BENAVIDES Kevin ARG Monster Energy Honda Team 2:52’28
2 SUNDERLAND Sam GBR Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team +0’08
3 GONCALVES Paulo POR Hero Motorsports Team Rally +1’19
4 BENAVIDES Luciano ARG KTM Factory Racing Team +2’25
5 BARREDA Joan SPA Monster Energy Honda Team +2’39
6 MENA Oriol SPA Hero Motorsports Team Rally +3’03
7 CAIMI Franco ARG Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team +4’25
8 SHORT Andrew USA Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing +6’18
9 VAN BEVEREN Adrien FRA Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team +7’08
10 GIEMZA Maciej POL KTM Orlen Rally Team +18’84
12 CORNEJO José Ignacio CHI Monster Energy Honda Team +21’17

Photos: Honda Racing Corporation

Monster Energy Honda Team rider Kevin Benavides sees his name inscribed in the Silk Way Rally history books as he becomes the first leader in the maiden outing of the motorcycle category. Barreda, posting fourth, and Cornejo both avoided mishaps.

The Silk Way Rally got underway today, Sunday, with a 50-kilometre curtain-raising special stage on route from Irkutsk to Baykalsk, which featured mountain tracks and riverbeds in the surroundings of Lake Baikal. The rain yesterday, which continued overnight, led to a mud-drenched affair, punctuated with some hazardous puddles. Riders with an enduro background faired better, while others employed low-risk, damage limitation strategies to avoid falls.

The quickest over the short distance proved to be Monster Energy Honda Team’s Argentine rider Kevin Benavides, who finished the timed special in just over 30 minutes to become the first race leader, some 36 seconds ahead of his brother.

Spanish ace Joan Barreda was the first of the trio to take the start and acquitted himself well to take the day’s fourth fastest time, while conceding little. Meanwhile, José Ignacio Cornejo finished in thirteenth place after a cautious start to the rally.

The second stage of the Silk Way Rally will be held tomorrow, Monday. With the start in Baykalsk and the finish in Ulan Ude, riders can expect a 413.72-kilometre total trek including 207 km against the clock. The forest routes to be tackled will feature a fair dosage of small rocks.

Kevin Benavides #7


I couldn’t ask for anything more! To start the race with a nice stage victory is always pleasing. Also, it will really boost my self-confidence which I needed a little. We have worked hard before the race and the results are starting to show. This race promises to surprise us with some very lovely places, but we have to continue working and pushing hard because we have only tackled the first of what will be a lot of tough days that lie ahead.

Joan Barreda #11


It was a short 50-kilometre stage, but it was a difficult, or rather, a complicated one. At the beginning there were many flooded parts with puddles full of plenty of water which made for an insecure ride. We even had a few slight scares, which meant that we had to proceed with caution. It has been a good warm-up, a great way to get a feel for the terrain, as yet unknown to us.

José Ignacio Cornejo #9


There was a lot of mud in the stage because of the rains that fell yesterday. I took things carefully not to make mistakes and avoid falling which would have affected my confidence. I am satisfied with what I have done out on a route that didn’t favour my riding style. It has not been a bad day and I hope to keep improving the pace a little as the race progresses.

Results Stage 1

Pos. Rider Num Nation Team Constructor Time/Gap
1 BENAVIDES Kevin ARG Monster Energy Honda Team Honda 00:30’51
2 BENAVIDES Luciano ARG KTM Factory Racing Team KTM +0’36
3 DE SOULTRAIT Xavier FRA Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team Yamaha +0’51
4 BARREDA Joan SPA Monster Energy Honda Team Honda +1’06
5 SUNDERLAND Sam GBR Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team KTM +1’15
6 GONCALVES Paulo POR Hero Motorsports Team Rally Hero +1’36
7 VAN BEVEREN Adrien FRA Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team Yamaha +2’02
8 CAIMI Franco ARG Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team Yamaha +2’51
9 SHORT Andrew USA Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing Husqvarna +3’01
10 MENA Oriol SPA Hero Motorsports Team Rally Hero +3’31
11 TOMICZEK Adam POL KTM Orlen Rally Team KTM +4’15
12 GIEMZA Maciej POL KTM Orlen Rally Team KTM +4’47
13 CORNEJO José Ignacio CHI Monster Energy Honda Team Honda +6’10

Photos: Honda Racing Corporation

Team HRC’s Tim Gajser recorded his seventh MXGP overall of the season, and the sixth in succession after posting one-two results at the Palembang track in Indonesia. With high temperatures and brutal humidity affecting other riders, Gajser continued his hot streak of form, reeling off two holeshots on his way to his 10th moto victory in 12 gate drops. This meant he extended his lead at the top of the MXGP championship to 130 points with just seven rounds still to race. Fellow Honda CRF450RW rider Brian Bogers also put in two good rides to get his best result of the season, going twelve-eight for eighth overall at this 11th round of the world motocross championship.

After winning the qualification race yesterday, Gajser used first gate pick to great effect, ripping off holeshots in both races and leading the field for the first few laps. In the first moto, the Slovenian rider was able to then pull out a good gap quickly which allowed him to control the race and cross the line six seconds ahead of his nearest challenger. As he attempted to do the same in race two, a small mistake forced him off the track and he ended up on the ground. Remounting in third, he quickly moved into second place but with the rutted terrain proving quite treacherous, he decided to settle for second, knowing that he still had the overall wrapped up. And with the 47 points from today’s motos, his MXGP championship lead increased to 130 points, and more importantly to 161 points over the next active rider in the series.

For teammate Bogers, a strong second moto finish of eighth allowed him to secure eighth overall and his best overall placing of the season. After having difficulties with the heat and humidity in the first race, dropping from 8th to 12th position, the Dutch rider regrouped in the break and set about trying to break into the top 10 for race two. After getting a good start and rounding the first lap in sixth place, he was able to achieve his aim with a strong, resilient performance, something he’ll be looking to show again in Semarang next weekend.

As the series moves east to the neighbouring island of Java, the high temperatures are likely to follow them but with a week to acclimatise to the weather, both Gajser and Bogers will be hoping to continue their form at a Semarang track that hosted a round in the 2018 series too.

Tim Gajser  243

All day I really enjoyed riding the track. In the first moto I grabbed the holeshot and made a little gap and controlled the race. I had a lot of fun out there and managed to win the first moto. In the second race I didn’t have the best jump out of the gate so I got closed off on the straight, but as they ran wide, I was able to cut inside and take another holeshot. On the fourth lap and went off the track, and my rear tyre spun on the dusty ground and I had a little crash. I re-joined the race in third place, but managed to pass Jeremy immediately. I saw that Romain was riding a really good pace out front so I decided to settle for second place and to win another overall. Obviously I’m still happy with how the day went and my standing in the championship.

Brian Bogers  189

The day didn’t really go as I wanted, especially the first moto. The first five or six laps felt okay and I was riding with the fast guys but then the heat hit me really bad and I couldn’t push anymore. I felt pretty bad about that so I really wanted to try harder for race two. I got out of the gate really well and from the beginning I was pushing even harder than the first moto. I didn’t want to save myself because that isn’t a good mindset and it seemed to work because even when I got a little tired with the heat, I could still keep pushing. I ended up with a twelfth and an eighth for eighth overall so that’s not too bad but I still want to do better.

Marcus Pereira de Freitas

HRC General Manager – MXGP

With the heat and humidity making conditions really tough, it was great to see Tim once again riding so well and taking the overall. He got the holeshot in both races which was very important and although he wasn’t able to win the second race, he still won his sixth overall in a row and increased his lead in the championship battle. He is doing everything we want from him and it is just great to see him riding with this much confidence.
It was also good to see Brian get his best overall placing of the season, despite not riding to his full capabilities. The heat was tough for everyone and he did much better in the second moto so we are happy with his recovery. He now has a week to adapt to these conditions a bit more and to come out swinging in Semarang.

Rider Standings

Pos. Rider Num Nation Points Team
1 GAJSER Tim 243 SLO 488 Team HRC – MXGP
2 CAIROLI Antonio 222 ITA 358 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing
3 SEEWER Jeremy 91 SWI 327 Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP Team
4 PAULIN Gautier 21 FRA 318 Wilvo Yamaha MXGP
5 TONUS Arnaud 4 SWI 304 Wilvo Yamaha MXGP
6 JASIKONIS Arminas 27 LTU 271 Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing
7 COLDENHOFF Glenn 259 NDL 256 Standing Construct KTM
8 JONASS Pauls 41 LAT 246 Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing
9 VAN HOREBEEK Jeremy 89 BEL 245 Honda SR Motoblouz
10 FEBVRE Romain 461 FRA 227 Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP Team
11 DESALLE Clement 25 BEL 208 Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing
12 ANSTIE Max 99 GBR 184 Standing Construct KTM
13 LIEBER Julien 33 BEL 184 Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing
14 MONTICELLI Ivo 128 ITA 161 iFly JK Racing
15 SIMPSON Shaun 24 GBR 129 RFX KTM Racing
16 BOGERS Brian 189 NDL 126 Team HRC – MXGP
17 LEOK Tanel 7 EST 112 A1M Husqvarna
18 SEARLE Tommy 100 GBR 103 Bike It DRT Kawasaki
19 LUPINO Alessandro 77 ITA 103 Gebben V Venrooy Kawasaki
20 TIXIER Jordi 911 FRA 81 Team VHR KTM Racing
21 PATUREL Benoit 6 FRA 65 Gebben V Venrooy Kawasaki
22 HERLINGS Jeffrey 84 NDL 57 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing
23 BRYLYAKOV Vsevolod 18 RUS 44 JWR Yamaha Racing
24 STRIJBOS Kevin 22 BEL 43 JWR Yamaha Racing
25 GOLE Anton 297 SWE 30 iFly JK Racing
26 PETROV Petar 152 BUL 24 Team Honda Red Moto
27 BUTRON Jose 17 SPA 18 JD Gunnex KTM Racing Team
28 LUSBO Andero 621 EST 15 Wildcard Rider
29 BERNARDINI Samuele 321 ITA 15 Ghidinelli Racing Team
30 GUILLOD Valentin 92 SWI 14 Standing Construct KTM

Photos: Honda Racing Corporation